Friday, September 14, 2012

How to make "Plarn"

  "Plarn" is made out of recycled plastic bags, and today we will learn how to create it, if you don't already know. It can be made from grocery, garbage, bread bags, etc. Just about any kind of plastic will work, but I find bags with seams (like potato chip bags) tend to break where the seams are.


  If you are familiar with plarn, use your preferred method, or maybe try something new. There are probably about 100 ways to make plarn, this is just a method I learned on the internet, then came up with a new way of joining the strips together.This way is great for those of you who are tired of weaving in ends.

  If you use the "loop" method for joining plarn strips, that's fine. I used to do it that way, and it seems to add a ton of strength to the plastic, but it also takes twice as many bags and leaves lumps in some projects.

  *Note* I have not researched whether or not someone came up with this way of joining before me. I'm not claiming to have invented this method, but if I did, then cool! Enjoy it.

Click here to see a list of patterns using Plarn

  After tiring of weaving in so many "plarn" ends during a project, I remembered reading about a method called the "Russian join" which involves splicing the yarn and weaving it into itself. This isn't really a Russian join, that is only what inspired this idea. 

 So, without further ado, I give you "spiral-cut plarn joined with a splice".

If you are new to cutting bags for plarn, begin with just one. With practice and good scissors (or a rotary cutter), you can stack many bags to cut at once.

Step 1:
If your bag has handles, cut them and the bottom off as evenly as possible, but don't worry about it being perfect, plarn is forgiving.













Step 2: 
Fold/roll the bag up side to side, leaving about 1 to 2 inches unfolded at the top.













Step 3:
Hold the bag by the fold firmly so it doesn't unfold. Cut into this fold starting 1 to 2 inches from the edge. Make sure you cut all the way through the folded part, but do not cut into the unfolded "tab" at the top. Continue cutting in this way, keeping strips as evenly spaced as possible.













Step 4:
Open the bag, holding by the uncut "tab". It should look like this:



Make your first cut along the top side where the strip meets the "tab", straight across up to the next strip.




Step 5:
Each cut will now be placed from bottom to top; starting on the inside of the tab closest to you, ending cutting to the inside of the tab above it.




  









If all goes correctly, you should now have one continuous strip of plarn.















Now, to join the strips together...



Step 1:
Cut a slit lengthwise along each end of the strip, leaving about 2-3 inches at the end. Make sure the cut is wide enough for the plarn to fit through, but try to not get it too long. With too large of a cut, this allows room for play, sometimes letting the plarn come loose again.














Step 2:
Pull the end of one plarn strip through the other, until the slit in this strip is past where you put it in.













Step 3:
Take the tail from the opposite strip and pull it through the other slit.
























I call this a "double splice."
If you prefer, you can do the "single splice", however, this takes a really long time to pull the whole tail through, and is not as strong.

Step 1 - 2
Same as above.

Step 3:
Take the tail of the strip that is inside the slit, run it through the opposite tail of itself.














  You can see why this takes awhile, when you have 15 feet of plarn to pull through; it does make a clean join though.

 Just playing around, I made this with produce bags, and colored some of it with permanent marker. I like the way the sun shines through it when I hang it in the window, like a sun-catcher. I'll have to make a nicer one. What can you think of to make out of plarn?



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